Daniel Steven Crafts ‘Soap Opera Suite/Snake Oil Symphony’


Soap Opera Suite
01 The Essence Of Melodrama (5:16)
02 The Art Of Hearing (5:55)
03 Brief Interlude: The Woods (0:28)
04 Living In Fragments (4:34)
05 The Conversation (7:51)
06 Brief Interlude: The Telephone Call (1:39)
07 The Human Condition (3:49)

Snake Oil Symphony
08 Part I (5:05)
09 Part II (2;55)
10 Part III (3:11)
11 Part IV (5:35)
12 Part V (3:11)
13 Part VI (7:50)
14 Part VII (3:03)

Total time 60:00
LP released on Lutra Recordings, 1982

Detroit-born Daniel Steven Crafts (b1949) composed 9 operas and set many poems to music in a neo-classical style. His composing skills are obvious in the montage/cut-up technique he uses in ‘Soap Opera Suite’, a plunderphonic of  multiple soaps from the early 1980s. (By the way, the color picture above is from Dynasty and I read the way these people dress is called ‘power-dressing’, for some reason. It looks plain ugly to me). An opera is music for voices and Soap Opera Suite has arias, duos, male/female voices alternating like in a regular opera, which Crafts wrote as well. The montage contrasts hysterical dialogues with quieter, bland remarks. Crafts cleverly  inserts library music jingles as pauses in the drama or shorter, enigmatic tracks of which my favorite has to be The Telephone Call Interlude (tr.#6), a brief study in phone pranks and paranoia. The ‘Snake Oil Symphony’ has more found-sound material, this time based on a salesman’s instructional LP found in a library and various snippets from music or TV programs. Here the human being is showed as a merchandise, his life merely oscillating between buying and selling. “We all have something to sell”, says one protagonist here. I’m reminded the late William Gaddis’ 1975 ‘J.R.’ novel (not related to Dallas, as far as I know), with its massive deluge of crude, uncredited dialogues about business. See interview with Crafts at Some Assembly Required.


7 Responses to “Daniel Steven Crafts ‘Soap Opera Suite/Snake Oil Symphony’”

  1. 1 icastico March 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    That was the 80’s- power dressing, power powder, and powerful hair products.

    Looks great.

  2. 2 twinkle March 2, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    This rather fecund.

  3. 3 continuo March 3, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Engrossing hair products, then.

  4. 4 Beauty Soap March 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    That’s great soap opera suite!

  5. 5 Spring Day March 22, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Hello Continuo,
    Lucky told me he cannot leave any comments on your blog at the moment… We’d had the idea of discussing some music in a chambre séparée that we call “Lust Corner”… We would be really happy if you join us. If you’re interested, send an email to me or to Lucky, and we’ll give you access to this little “extra-blog”.

  6. 6 CALIFORNIA CHRIS January 27, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    this album is going to be released on CD. we have the masters, but not the money. hopefully this year?

  7. 7 continuo January 27, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Let me know if you want me to remove the download link above.

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